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JoAnn (Flojo3), Adrenal Bio

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After reading this website for awhile, with much interested and appreciation, I thought I should post my introduction even though I don’t have a confirmed diagnosis yet.

I am a 63 year old Canadian widow who recently retired – partly because I was finding work difficult, i.e. not as sharp mentally, fatigued, less motivated, sleepy in the afternoon, digestive problems and some days just not feeling well.

My symptoms started about 11 years ago. Acne/boils started developing on my face and I also noticed, after growing my hair longer, that it became curly after being straight all my life. About this time I also gained about 35 lbs. quickly. As I wanted to quit smoking I went on the Atkins Diet and walked at least an hour about 6 days a week. I did lose the 35 pounds in 5 months. However, when I did quit smoking some months later I gained 65 pounds in 6 months – more than I thought I deserved to gain (I am 5′ 2″). At first my doctor was not concerned as he said I had not ever been heavy and would start losing this weight. However, after three years or so he began to strongly encourage me to do so especially once I developed very high blood pressure and cholesterol. I was trying but with no success.

In addition, some of the symptoms I have been experiencing, some off and on, are: dry skin, skin tags, thinning hair on the top of my head, e, aches and pains (including repetitive strain injury), fatigue and anxious feelings. Last summer, for a short period of time, I had very dark pigmentation under my arms, under my breasts and on my forehead. I am on medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, thyroid and hiatus hernia.

Over the years I did mention some of these symptoms to my doctor and he said it was probably because of my overweight. I have been doing research on the computer for years and several years ago he readily agreed to send me for testing for PCOS although he didn’t feel that is what I had because I have 3 children.

Last year I had, I believe, two bladder infections and this year when I went for my annual check up on November 29th he found I had one again. (This is embarrassing!) I had no symptoms/pain though – maybe just frequent urination especially at night. As a result and because my mother had kidney cancer, he decided to send me for an ultra sound on my kidneys. My followup appointment was on December 22nd. He said my kidneys looked fine, however, there was an abnormality in my adrenal glands. I think he said they were swollen. He said they are not suspecting cancer and that is probably why I couldn’t lose weight, had high blood pressure, etc. He seemed pleased that finally there may be an explanation for my various symptoms. I must admit I did not tell him everything as I did not want to seem like a hypochondriac. My doctor ordered a CT Scan (appointment originally April 11th) and referred me to Urologist.

I had my appointment with him on January 14th and he rescheduled my CT Scan for January 28th. I recently completed lab work, i.e. 24-hour urine test, glucose, creatintine, uric acid, sodium, potassium, chloride, CBC (Hematology), urine test, serum Cortisol 8 a.m. test and a urine R4M (can’t read that writing too well). On February 15th I have a follow-up appointment with the Urologist. I have mixed feelings. In one way I am very happy at last that I am not “crazy” and something is wrong, however, I am frightened at what is ahead. Also, part of me wants to know everything and part of me wants to let things unfold a bit at a time. For the most part I do feel positive and feel that if it was cancer I would not have been having symptoms for at least 11 years. So I continue to read/research every night and have learned a lot from this board (have started to keep a journal) and am enjoying the humour as well. Sorry this is so long but it has been many years of various symptoms and frustrations. Thanks for reading my introduction and for sharing your knowledge and experiences.

JoAnn

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ORKitty, Pituitary Bio

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Another Golden Oldie, this bio was originally posted 01/22/2008

Hi, I’m ORKitty. I live in Portland, OR, with my wonderful husband and kitty. I just turned 50 in 2005.

I began this journey quite possibly 17 years ago when I had some isolated panic attacks and then suddenly had panic 24 hours a day. I also kept crying and didn’t know why. I was eventually put on Xanax and then found a psychiatrist who put me on the anti-depressant imipramine and weaned me off the Xanax. It worked well for both the panic and depression for about 10 years. I gained some weight which I attributed to the anti-depressant. During this time I was still able to work and ran my own home-based business for 3 years. About seven years ago my anxiety worsened and my psychiatrist added Klonopin to deal with it. About this time I began gaining even more weight.

Due to a terrible (and terrifying) experience with a doctor, I developed a real phobia about seeing doctors. I managed to overcome this in early 2003 and have a large lump on my neck examined. An ultrasound showed normal tissue, but while I was there the doctor took my blood pressure at 160/100 and then decided to do an EKG. She found an abnormality and sent me to a cardiologist who diagnosed me with severe cardiomyopathy (next step dead). I was put on medication and had regular echocardiograms every few months and each one showed more improvement.

In fall of 2003 I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and began taking Levoxyl, increasing by very small doses because it seemed to increase my anxiety every time I upped the dose. At the same time I was taken off the imipramine because there was some concern that it may have contributed to my heart problems. As my thyroid meds increased I began to lose weight and began having serious digestive problems including constant diarrhea. I had burning sensations in both arms, edema in both legs and my periods stopped. After some misdiagnoses and some doctor abuse I was finally found to have gallstones and had my gallbladder removed in April of 2004. I had hoped this would clear up the digestive issues, but that wasn’t the case.

After the surgery I noticed that my depression was getting much worse. By July I found that I couldn’t stand to listen to music or watch TV without getting anxious and upset. I was also feeling like I was in a fog and had racing, looping thoughts. I had trouble with reasoning and memory. My psychiatrist began prescribing a variety of medications, none of which seemed to help any of my symptoms. Things were so bad that I became suicidal for the first time in my life.

I finally persuaded my doctor to do a CAT scan to see what was wrong with my digestive system. Nothing showed up there but they found a uterine/ovarian mass and an adrenal adenoma. My doctor didn’t tell me about the adenoma until a later visit when she mentioned it in passing, saying it was nothing to worry about.

Oregon Health Sciences University.

Oregon Health Sciences University. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

That was when I saw my first endocrinologist hoping to get help with my thyroid and an explanation of what was going on with my adrenal gland. He did a 24-hr. urine collection and my cortisol was high (200). He did an 8mg Dex test and I didn’t suppress completely so he sent me to Dr. Cook at OHSU who did a CRH/Dex test. The results were somewhat ambiguous, but he decided that the most likely source was the adrenal adenoma and recommended having the gland removed. I had that surgery in December of 2004. The day of the surgery I developed phlebitis in my right arm starting at the site of the IV. My arm became red and swollen from wrist to shoulder and all the superficial veins in that arm clotted up and disappeared. Ten months later I still can’t have blood drawn from that arm.

In the months after my surgery my heart went back to normal and my cholesterol and blood pressure improved, my periods came back and the burning sensations lessened. My legs were still swollen and suddenly became very red and hot. Doctors suggested it might be cellulitis or vasculitis. After 10 days of antibiotics the redness went away and a few months later the edema did, too. An ultrasound of my legs showed a thickened vein in my right leg that suggested there might have previously been a blood clot there. The mental fog slowly improved but I’m still not back to where I was. The anxiety and depression did not improve and have even gotten worse.

I planned to have the uterine mass removed after the adrenal surgery. This would be a total hysterectomy and my surgeon feels that my blood clotting problems need to be treated before the surgery. He is 99% certain that it is not cancerous since it hasn’t changed in over a year so I have the option of having the surgery when and if I choose. Of course there is a very slight chance that this mass could be the ACTH source.

Dr. Cook wants to do the IPSS before the MRI of my pituitary but this clotting problem needs to be dealt with before we stick 3-foot catheters in my veins. Plus I am running out of arm veins for the IVs.

Right now I’m waiting for my doctors to decide how to deal with this clotting problem before I can get the IPSS done.

I had a follow-up visit with Dr. Cook in September of 2005 and he ran all the tests again including the CRH/Dex. Since we thought the adrenalectomy had cured the problem, we were both surprised when my ACTH did not suppress. Dr. Cook wants to do an IPSS to see if the source is ectopic or pituitary. As I mentioned above, there is a slight chance that the growth on my uterus and right ovary could be the source of the ACTH. Neither my Gyn surgeon nor Dr. Cook feel that this is very likely, but it does make having the IPSS even more important than it would normally be.

Mary (TheGoat), Pituitary Bio

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I had 3 transphenoidal surgeries 1 month apart in 2003. I had a csf leak and when it was repaired the pituitary had become necrotic and I lost the whole gland.

They said that did not cure the cushings so I had a BLA in 2004.

I have had nothing but health problems since then. Diabetes, fatty liver disease, frequent adrenal insufficiency, severe anemia despite no periods,  vitamin d deficiency, and other strange things.

They are now working me up for the neuroendocrine carcinoid tumor in the stomach or small bowel. It has been quite a road and I am not sure if I would do this all again if I could.

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